ARC REVIEW: The Last Gods Of Indochine – by Samuel Ferrer

Title: The Last Gods Of Indochine
Author: Samuel Ferrer

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Signal 8 Press
Finished reading: March 13th 2017
Pages: 422

“I told Jean-Luc I feared entering a world where everyone is a stranger; the truth is, I am escaping from a world where everyone knew me too well.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess I’m terribly behind with my ARCs and this historical fiction story was long overdue. The Last Gods Of Indochine belongs to one of my favorite genres and both the Cambodian setting, era and reference to local mythology had me intrigued immediately. This novel by Samuel Ferrer surely didn’t disappoint. The Last Gods Of Indochine is mostly set in Cambodia and has two main storylines: one set in the 1920s and one set in the 13th century. I was instantly charmed by the story of Paaku the Lotus-Born all those centuries ago, and the mythology and ideas of his world are intriguing. His chapters are without doubt my favorite part of this novel, and I enjoyed learning more about both his world and his character. I wasn’t instantly convinced by Jacquie on the other hand, and it took me some time to connect to her. It was very interesting to read about her journey to Cambodia though and the circumstances under which both her grandfather before her and Jacquie herself had to travel in those days. I also particularly enjoyed their travels within Cambodia and it was nice to see both storylines slowly connect. In short, The Last Gods Of Indochine is a well written historical fiction story with an intriguing plot and a fascinating read in general for fans of the genre.

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In medieval Cambodia, Paaku the Lotus-Born is an orphan raised by a Vishu priest. One day something incredible happens and the community starts to believe Paaku might be the incarnation of a god… Something that might turn out to be dangerous for him and he is not sure if he wants that title in the first place. Meanwhile, in 1921, Jacquie follows the footsteps of her grandfather and travels to Indochina. Her grandfather was a famous explorer who died during his travels, and Jacquie wants to learn more about the country he explored. Soon she starts learning about the tragedy of Paaku’s history and the storylines slowly intertwine…

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If you enjoy reading well written historical fiction stories with an interesting setting and a touch of (Asian) mythology, The Last Gods Of Indochine is an excellent choice. Two stories set in two completely different centuries slowly start to intertwine… And the ‘modern’ world clashes with the medieval story. I had a great time reading this novel and especially Paaku’s POV stood out from me. Such a fascinating story!


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ARC REVIEW: Renegade Red – by Lauren Bird Horowitz

Title: Renegade Red
(The Light #2)
Author: Lauren Bird Horowitz

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
First published: March 14th 2017
Publisher: Papaloa Press
Finished reading: March 7th 2017
Pages: 420

“Some scars are necessary.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Papaloa Press in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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For the longest time, I remember a few fellow bloggers including Ashley and Maren saying lots and lots of wonderful things about the first book in this series (Shattered Blue). In fact, it made me wonder why I didn’t see the series mentioned more often… I admit it took me way too long to make true on my promise to give this series a go, but I’m so glad I finally saw ‘the light’. Because this series is without doubt one of the most underrated ones I’ve read to this date! True, it does have a love triangle and lots of going back and forth between the two ‘candidates’, but somehow Lauren Bird Horowitz made me forgive the story for it. And trust me, it doesn’t happen often I actually tolerate a love triangle. How? You just have to read a little sample of the prose to get an idea. The writing style is lyrical, flows and is simply so beautiful! And not only is this series well written, it also has a fast pace and an interesting plot and main characters… I can definitely undersand the love for this series now, and I will be waiting impatiently for the third book to come out so I can read all three books together. If you like YA romantic fantasy, make sure to check out this series! It’s without doubt a hidden gem.

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WARNING: Possible spoilers! Please don’t read this summary if you haven’t read the first book yet. I’ll keep the summary super short but it’s impossible to keep it completely spoiler-free…

The story continues right where it ended in Shattered Blue… Noa Sullivan jumps into a collapsing Portal desperate to try and rescue her little sister Sasha. Noa and the Fae brothers Callum and Judah will have to find a way to survive, but it’s not only the different world that complicates things… Their search for little Sasha will take them to dangerous and treacherous places and even their own minds will start working against them. The battle has to be fought both on the inside and out; will they be able to succeed before it’s too late?

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This series isn’t exactly widely known and now I’ve had the chance to experience it myself I really don’t understand why it hasn’t received more attention. I’m sticking with my belief that The Light trilogy is probably one of the most underrated series I’ve read so far! The lyrical writing style will manage to put most YA fantasy fans under an instant spell and even though it does have a slightly annoying love triangle, the rest of the story will make up for it. More than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: A Gentleman In Moscow – by Amor Towles

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Title: A Gentleman In Moscow
Author: Amor Towles

Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Hutchinson
Finished reading: February 24th 2017
Pages: 462
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“No matter how much time passes, those we have loved never slip away from us entirely.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Hutchinson in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I first heard about this book last year and originally wanted to read it before the Goodreads Choice Awards last November, but I wasn’t able to get a copy in time. I’ve heard nothing but great things about A Gentleman In Moscow ever since and I was delighted to both find it mentioned at Netgalley AND actually receive an ARC copy of it shortly after. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, but it’s been a while since I last read a story set in Russia. This novel by Amor Towles starts in the 1920s and follows the main character during the next two decades, successfully combining historical facts with the personal stories of the characters and making A Gentleman In Moscow that much more intriguing to read. Sure, this novel has quite a slow pace and that might disencourage some readers. But the prose and descriptions more than make up for it and the slow pace can be explained in the first place by the fact that it’s a mostly character-driven story. It’s beautifully written story that will appeal to both fans of the historical fiction genre and to those who enjoy a proper character-driven story. Because it’s the main characters who make this book into such a lovely story; without Count Alexander Rostov and his new friends at the hotel, this story would simply fall apart.

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On 21 June 1922, the life of Count Alexandre Rostov is about to change forever… In fact, he is lucky to be still alive the next day. The Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is forced to spend the rest of his days inside the Hotel Metropol just across the Red Square. And they don’t take him to his usual suite either; he is led to a small attic room without even a proper window. Rostov is forced to embrace his new life stripped of everything that used to define him, and it makes him question what makes us who we are… And during his years at the Metropol, he slowly starts to discover new ways to find purpose in his life.

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If you want to try the historical fiction genre, but are afraid of dense fact-ridden bricks that are difficult to read, A Gentleman In Moscow will come to the rescue. It’s true that the pace is a bit slow, but apart from the beautiful descriptions of the 20th century Russia this novel is mostly about the life of Count Alexander Rostov inside the hotel and the way his character develops over time. It’s a truly fascinating read and the prose is wonderful; more than recommended!


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ARC REVIEW: The Truth Will Out – by Brian Cleary

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Title: The Truth Will Out
Author: Brian Cleary

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 12th 2016 
Finished reading: February 15th 2017
Pages: 220
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“He just couldn’t believe that he could do it. But what he didn’t know was whether he couldn’t believe it or that he didn’t want to believe it.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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Confession: it took me way longer than planned to finally pick up my copy of The Truth Will Out, but I’m glad I was finally able to. I already had a feeling this novel by Brian Cleary was probably going to be a good one, especially with such an explosive blurb… And my instincts didn’t fail me: the story had me hooked right from the first sentence. If you are looking for a disturbing, twisted and well written crime thriller that reads like a train, you’ve just found an excellent candidate. The Truth Will Out is set in Ireland, partly in the 1970s and partly in the present. The main character Jamie is accused of having attacked and brutally raped one of his best friends, Mary Kate, and the evidence against him is truly overwhelming. He does have a violent history, but would he really be able to do such a thing? The case is without doubt fascinating, especially since you go back and forth from the past and slowly learn more about Jamie and the other main characters. Do I understand why Jamie never spoke up and revealed a secret that might prove his innocence? No. But it definitely makes for a great plot twist. Speaking of those, The Truth Will Out is literally packed with excellent plot twists that will keep you guessing at what exactly is going on for a long time. In short, this crime thriller is a well written, properly disturbing and gripping story I can recommend to any fan of the genre.

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Jamie, Shane and Mary Kate practically grew up together and have been friends for a long time. But their friendship is about to be tested as one night Mary Kate is brutally attacked and raped and now lies in a coma. Jamie was found unconscious close to her body, and he is an instant suspect. The evidence against him is overwhelming; the fact that he cannot remember what happened that night doesn’t really help either. But even though Jamie has a secret that might help prove his innocence, he decides to leave his fate in the hands of God. If he is supposed to be innocent, then Mary Kate will wake up from her coma and reveal the real attacker. Only, life doesn’t always work that way…

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Not only is this story packed with plot twists, action and an intriguing plot, it was also really interesting to learn more about the main characters and their development. This crime thriller is set in Ireland and has a diverse plot with a wide variety of different characters that will each add a little something to the story. Corrupt guards, a private detective, a serial killer, an unexperienced solicitor and more; you won’t find a boring moment in this story!


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ARC REVIEW: Little Girl Lost – by Carol Wyer

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Title: Little Girl Lost
(DI Robyn Carter #1)
Author: Carol Wyer

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
First published: January 19th 2017
Publisher: Bookouture
Finished reading: February 10th 2017
Pages: 412
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“It’s a gift of the truth. Lies harm. Lies hurt. The truth liberates. You should try it sometime. In fact, you should try it now before it’s too late.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I always have a weak spot for a good psychological thriller, so even though I shouldn’t have, I requested a copy of Little Girl Lost anyway after hearing a lot of great things about it. This book by Carol Wyer is the first book of a new detective series and I’m glad I listened to the positive reviews. It’s without doubt a worthy psychological thriller! The writing style is really enjoyable to read and there were lots and lots of plot twists to enjoy. The new main character of this series surely stumbles across some very disturbed and twisted characters during her first appearance! Robyn Carter is your typical DI main character with cliche messed up past and impressive detective skills, but I’ve grown to like her during the story. It wasn’t love at first sight, but I will be looking forward to find out what happens to her in the future. Some of the other characters were on the border of annoying, but I guess some of them are supposed to be unlikeable/unreliable in the first place. The plot itself was a mix of messed up, intriguing, shocking with a healthy dose of paranoia. I’m sure most of the twists and revelations will surprise you, even though (part of) the ending was a little predictable. If you are looking for an entertaining, well written and twisted psychological thriller, Little Girl Lost is without doubt a great choice.

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A teacher goes missing under suspicious circumstances and a millionaire is murdered during a run, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious link between the men. Detective Robyn Carter has just returned to the force and told to work on the cases. When she starts her investigation, things don’t exactly add up. Her investigations lead her to Abigail, a woman with a seemingly perfect life and a beautiful little daughter Izzy. Robyn has the feeling the woman is hiding something though… What is Abigails connection to the victims? And why is someone threatening Abigail?

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Little Girl Lost doesn’t only belong to one of my favorite genres, it also involves a serial killer. It might sound weird, but serial killer thrillers truly fascinate me… And the killer in this one definitely is a ‘beauty’. Twisted, disturbed, messed up childhood and a touch of humanity, all put together in a huge bowl of REVENGE: that is basically the description of the perp in Little Girl Lost. The true identity is hidden for a long time, although it’s quite easy to guess who it is before you reach the ending. A lot of the other twists will definitely shock/surprise you and if you are looking for a gripping psychological thriller I can definitely recommend this one.


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BOOK REVIEW: The Darkest Minds – by Alexandra Bracken

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Title: The Darkest Minds
(The Darkest Minds #1)
Author: Alexandra Bracken

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Dystopia
First published: December 18th 2012
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Finished reading: January 21st 2017
Pages: 499
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“The darkest minds tend to hide behind the most unlikely faces.”

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I still can’t believe it took me more than TWO years to finally pick up my copy of The Darkest Minds. I’ve been wanting to start this series for ages, but somehow I always ended up picking up a different title instead. But no longer. Now I’ve finally read the first book of this series Alexandra Bracken has me hooked. No more escape for the sequels, because I will be reading them VERY soon for another dose of my favorite Psi characters. I can definitely undestand what all the hype is about now… Sure, the plot isn’t all that original with its dystopian world where kids and teenagers develop a ‘superbrain’ and special powers. But it WAS written back in 2012 so I definitely kept that in mind. And more importantly, this story was just way too entertaining to worry about  the originality in the first place. I liked the main characters and their development, although little Zu is probably my absolute favorite. Ruby on the other hand can come over as a bit whiney at points, but I guess she did have some complicated memories to deal with… Another great feature of The Darkest Minds is without doubt the writing style and pace. The prose was so enjoyable to read and the story itself reads like a train. All in all a promising start of what has all the signs of being a great series!

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When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed even though she didn’t realize it at first. She found out soon enough when her parents locked her up in the garage and called the police instead of celebrating Ruby’s birthday with her. Instead, she was sent to the Thurmond camp along with all the other children who survived the mysterious disease and showed signs of having the new frightening abilities they could not control… And life at Thurmond is tough. Ruby is now sixteen and one of the dangerous ones. They put her in the wrong group when she arrived, saving her life at first but putting her in danger if the truth comes out. She has to escape, but that will only be possible with help from the inside…

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Like I said before, I feel really bad about not picking up this series earlier. As I already suspected, I really enjoyed reading The Darkest Minds and I will be reading the sequels (or at least the second book) next month without fail. Both the writing style and character are easy to like and even though the plot might not be all that original, I enjoyed diving into this dystopian world anyway. Recommended for YA dystopian fans!


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ARC REVIEW: It’s All Absolutely Fine – by Ruby Elliot

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Title: It’s All Absolutely Fine
Author: Ruby Elliot

Genre: Graphic Novel, Non Fiction, Memoir
First published: January 31st 2017
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Finished reading: January 15th 2017
Pages: 256
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“That’s what you need sometimes, whether it’s a dog or a cat or a jazzy lizard or something else entirely that provides you with some emotional respite when it’s all too messy – a tiny yet significant port in an almighty storm.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I confess I don’t have a lot of experience reading graphic novels, but when I saw It’s All Absolutely Fine at Netgalley I was immediately intrigued by the promise of a combination of simple drawings and a down-to-earth description of the daily struggles of life with mental illness. It is a topic that has always interested me for various reasons… And It’s All Absolutely Fine is without doubt another title to add to my list of favorites talking about mental illness. Why? First of all, I found it really easy to connect to the little stories. Ruby Elliot shows life as it is without trying to hide the ugly parts, and I can really appreciate the sincerity of it all. This bundle switches between short essays and illustrations that show the reader Ruby’s experiences living with social anxiety and the daily struggles of life with mental illness. Simple drawings of sometimes ‘simple’ situations, but with a huge dose of sharp humor for maximum effect.

I think this illustration above gives just the right idea of what I’m talking about… Ruby Elliot‘s drawings are sometimes brutally honest, but they always feel 100% real. It’s both an entertaining and eye-opening read that will appeal both to anyone interested in the topic and fans of memoirs such as Furiously Happy.

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It’s All Absolutely Fine is both an honest and unapologetic account of Ruby’s daily struggle living with mental illness. She uses simple drawings and a few short essays to talk about themes like mood disorders, anxiety and issues with body image; all sprinkled with the right dose of humor. Each chapter talks about a different set of struggles, and every aspect is talked about openly without hiding the ugly parts.

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It’s All Absolutely Fine is a graphic novel and memoir that tries to both show what it is to live with mental illness and tell other people that it is okay to not feel okay. The drawings might be simple, but are brutally honest and have a dose of sharp humor for maximum effect. I really enjoyed reading this story and I think anyone interested in the topic would enjoy reading It’s All Absolutely Fine as well. Recommended!


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